Making a complaint

From time to time, you may feel dissatisfied with some aspect of your dealings with the University and, when that happens, it is important that the issue is dealt with constructively and as quickly as possible without risk of disadvantage or recrimination

The University aims to resolve any complaint quickly and informally in accordance with the student concerns and complaints procedure (.pdf).

Examples of complaints might include:

  • failure by the University to meet its obligations including those outlined in the course/student handbooks or Student Charter
  • misleading or incorrect information provided by the University in prospectuses or promotional material
  • concerns about the delivery of a programme, teaching or administration
  • poor quality facilities, learning resources or services provided directly by the University

How to make a complaint 

Complaint about your studies

If you have a complaint about your studies, you should write to the Head or Dean of your department or school, clearly explaining what your concerns are and how you would like them to be resolved.

Complaint about another service at the University 

If you have a complaint about another service at the University, you should write to the Head of that service. You can also find out more about making an accommodation complaint.

Complaint about staff

If you have a complaint about a member of staff, you should submit a formal complaint (see below). Your complaint may be submitted to the University’s Human Resources Section and considered as a staffing matter in the first instance. Any formal investigation of your complaint will be suspended until the staffing matter is resolved, but the University may make interim arrangements with you as deemed appropriate.

Complaint about an admissions application 

There is a separate, formal complaints process if you wish to complain about an admissions application at the University.

Not sure how or who to write to? 

If you are not sure how to write your complaint, you can use this Early Resolution Form (.docx). 

If you are unsure who to write to, you can send your initial concerns to studentcomplaints@essex.ac.uk and it will be redirected for you. Once your complaint has been received, the Head of Department, School or service will try to resolve the matter with you directly.

Formal complaints

If you're not satisfied with the response that you have received from the Head of Department, School or service, then you can submit a formal complaint that will be independently reviewed.

You will need to complete a Formal Student Complaint Form (.docx) and sent it to studentcomplaints@essex.ac.uk or submit it at the Student Services Hub on your campus. Unfortunately, the University does not accept anonymous complaints or complaints submitted by a third party.

Once received, your complaint will be referred to a Complaint Investigator who will arrange an appointment with you to discuss your complaint. Formal complaints normally take around 6-8 weeks to be investigated.

More information about how your complaint will be considered is available in the student concerns and complaints procedure (.pdf).

Please note that the Student Concerns and Complaints Procedure is only available for students studying at the University of Essex or have recently graduated. Students studying at Partner Institutions should contact their education provider directly.

Complaints not covered

The definition of a complaint is very broad and the list above is not exhaustive. However, some issues may be more appropriately considered under processes other than the complaints procedure. The complaints procedure will not normally cover:

  • appeals relating to examinations or assessments or to academic progress or against a finding of guilt in relation to an academic offence (see the academic appeals procedure)
  • complaints involving an allegation that a student has failed to meet his/her academic commitments (see the academic progress procedures)
  • complaints involving an allegation of misconduct by a student or dissatisfaction about an outcome of the student conduct process (see the Code of Student Conduct)
  • complaints involving an allegation of harassment
  • a concern about a decision made under other specific regulations such as Fitness to Practise (.pdf) or Disclosure and Barring Service
  • complaints regarding admissions decisions

Advice and support

SU Advice provides independent advice, support and guidance and representatives are permitted to accompany students to meetings at any stage of the complaints procedure.

The complaints procedure is an internal process and does not have the same degree of formality as a court of law. It is not normally permitted for students to be legally represented at investigative meetings that form part of the complaints procedure.

Complaint review

If you have received the outcome of your complaint and you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you may be able to request an Internal Review. An Internal Review is not a re-investigation of your complaint, but may be requested for:

  • A review of the procedures that have previously been followed
  • Consideration of whether the outcome of the complaint investigation was reasonable in all the circumstances
  • Consideration of new material evidence that you were unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process

To request an Internal Review, please complete an internal review form (.docx) and send it to studentcomplaints@essex.ac.uk by the deadline provided to you.

Once an Internal Review has been completed, you will be entitled to ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), the independent ombudsman service of last resort, to look at your complaint.

Full details of the Internal Review procedure, and of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, are provided in the student concerns and complaints procedure (.pdf) and will be provided to in writing at the completion of the formal complaint investigation.

Contact us
Contact us
Student Progress Team University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 874000